A Commission on Elections (Comelec) official admitted on Thursday, September 23, that the poll body was considering the possibility of extending voter registration by at least one week, but after the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) on October 1 to 8.
“Our proposal is to use a one-week extension after the filing of COC,” Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo told lawmakers during a hearing by the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automated Election System on Thursday.
Notably, Casquejo’s statement is the most significant indication that the poll body is not fully closing its doors on extending voter registration.
A highly placed source within the poll body told Rappler on Tuesday, September 21, that the proposal to extend voter registration by one week was in the En Banc’s agenda for Wednesday, September 22.
“There is a proposal of a one-week extension including Saturday but after the filing of COCs, because it’s difficult to conduct both simultaneously,” the source told Rappler on Wednesday in a mix of English and Filipino.
Lawmakers, in response to Casquejo’s revelation on Thursday that a one-week extension was on the table, pressed Comelec to grant a two-week extension instead.
“Ang layo ng one week na binibigay ng Comelec sa one month na hinihingi ng legislature,” Senator Imee Marcos said. “Hindi siya compromise.”
(The one-week extension being considered by the Comelec is nothing compared to the one month being requested by the legislature. It’s not a compromise.)
“Baka puwedeng dagdagan. Kahit dalawang linggo (Maybe you can lengthen the extension to two weeks),” Cavite 4th District Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr. added.
This latest development comes after a united push from the Senate and the House to move the deadline to October 31.
Two similar bills on the matter are being fast-tracked in both chambers. In the Senate, the proposal hurdled second reading on Wednesday and is expected to be approved on third and final reading on Monday, September 27.
Lawmakers, as well as other stakeholders, are worried that millions of voters would be disenfranchised should the Comelec stick to its September 30 registration deadline.
In particular, local Comelec offices in vote-rich Metro Manila have been grappling with long lines since voter registration resumed in early September.
While there are already 62 million registered Filipinos for the polls on May 9, 2022, the projected voting population next year according to the Philippine Statistics Authority is over 73 million.
In previous statements, the Comelec had said it cannot move the deadline due to operational concerns. Many of its administrative preparations are dependent on the final number of voters, such as the proper allocation of official ballots and other paraphernalia, among others. – Rappler.com